Around here summer is a short season, preceded by a drizzly June and ending abruptly when the rain returns.
The Key is always beautiful for those of us who love it, but summer is the season when we tend to appreciate the place most. Songbirds trill as the sun comes up. Tall stalks of foxglove blanket fields purple-blue. Maple, birch and alder leaves hang along the roadsides bright as jewels in the sun.
Sally Gallagher often spends summer days with her daughter-in-law and grandchildren at Penrose State Park in Lakebay. As her 10-year-old granddaughter Bridget points out, the beach provides a variety of fun activities. “I can play all day and build forts on the beach, play in the water and hang out,” she said.
Little sister Frances, age 8, explained that the beach is a place where children can meet up for old-fashioned, messy fun. “We meet our cousins here and play all sorts of games and get dirty, and our moms don’t care how dirty we get,” she said. “We always wash off before we leave.”
For the youngest Gallagher sibling, 4-year-old Megan, it is impossible to have a bad day at the beach. “If I drop my sandwich, I can feed the birdies,” she said.
Adults less inclined to fort-building and beach play still enjoy being outdoors this time of year. “I do not have kids, but my husband and I love to sit outside and read under the tree on warm, sunny days,” said Kari Gulbranson, a kindergarten teacher at Minter Creek Elementary School. “This helps us to relax and take in the fresh air.”
Jogging local trails is a favorite summer routine for Wesley Mosier. “I enjoy jogging on the Cushman Trail and McCormick Forest Park on most days since they are close and easily accessible,” he said. “Trails are well-maintained and not that crowded either.”
When evening comes, Mosier and family like to check out the music scene. “I love to listen to live bands, whether it’s outside or at a local restaurant with my dad and brother,” he said.
Surrounded on three sides by water, Key residents gravitate to the shoreline when the
temperature starts to climb. For Katy Stewart, summer is the time to get back on the boat with her husband and son. “Our little sailboat, ‘Greener,’ just finished the Race to Alaska (R2AK 2017) and we’ll spend as much time sailing this summer as we can, as soon as Grandpa finishes delivering her home from Ketchikan,” she said. Between sailings, the Stewarts love to pick up fresh local oysters from Minterbrook and barbecue.
On the hottest days, the Dukeshire family (Dad Aaron, mom Jen, and their five children Ayden,
Owen, Ayla, Aaron Jr. and Soren) know where to find the cool spots. “Home Park—or ‘Fire Truck Park’ as the kids call it—is fun because it’s shady,” Jen said.
For many Key Peninsula families, summer means time to earn prizes reading in the Pierce County Summer Reading Contest (adults can participate, too). They also participate in the diverse activities the library offers, from puppet-shows to the building of Lego robots. At Vacation Bible School classes across the Key, religious studies are made fun. The Key Peninsula Historical Society offers a chance for young and old to learn about those who came before us. In August, neighbors gather at Volunteer Park each Friday as the sun sets for music, crafts and a movie outdoors on the inflatable screen. Saturdays and Sundays, it’s time to browse for treasures at the swap meet at Lake Kathryn village.
Locals say time moves a little slower on the Key Peninsula. Let’s hope that’s true this summer.
Alice Kinerk will be teaching the highly capable fourth and fifth grade class at Minter Creek Elementary School this fall and is a regular contributor to the Key Peninsula News. She lives in Longbranch.